The most pedestrian stretch of Tim McVey’s career can be traced to a podiatry-related issue.
The Air Force senior tailback developed a turf toe ailment on Sept. 30 at New Mexico when his foot essentially folded over a planted toe, causing what amounts to a hyperextension.
He hasn’t missed any game action since then, but he has missed multiple practices and hasn’t been his explosive self. At New Mexico and the two games after, McVey averaged 5.0 yards on 35 carries. While that’s a respectable average, it’s not for McVey. He entered this season averaging 8.4 yards per attempt.
“It’s a nagging injury and it’s annoying, especially as a running back,” McVey said.
“I like to play like myself.”
McVey resembled his old self at Nevada on Friday. He rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and his 38-yard gain on a cutback to open Air Force’s final drive proved to be the difference-making play in a 45-42 victory that was sealed with a last-second field goal.
“I’m really happy for Timmy,” quarterback Arion Worthman said after Friday’s victory. “We’ve been giving him crap all year like, ‘When you going to show up Tim?’ He did today and it was awesome. I’m proud of him and happy for him.”
Playing the game on a Friday could prove to be a huge advantage for McVey in this stage of recovery. Not only is it an extra day of rest before facing Colorado State, but it should allow him to get into the normal flow of a practice week.
“Definitely beneficial,” McVey said on Tuesday. “I plan on practicing today. It’s really rough when you’re not practicing, it gets you out of your groove. I love practicing, so it’s really frustrating for me when I’m not able to, so it’s great that I’m going to be back out there. I need it. I need to practice.”
Nobody preaches the benefits of practice like McVey’s coach, Troy Calhoun. He sees no difference even when talking about a player the caliber of McVey, who ranks seventh in program history in touchdowns (32), 20th in rushing yards (1,668), first in rushing average (7.7) and who scored four touchdowns and ran for 184 yards in a 49-46 victory over Colorado State last year.
“You have to practice to be good, consistently good,” Calhoun said. “Certainly at this age and at this level you do. You have to work every single day to improve at your course or your craft.
“We’re adamant that truly you do either get better or worse, and that’s more than a slogan – that’s a reality of life.”
McVey agrees with this, but he also has to recover. After all, there’s no football if a player doesn’t have his feet.